Republican Attacks on Obama; June Special Election; Taxing the Rich; Rights of Prisoners …

by on January 27, 2009

To the Editor:

It is quite ironic that the GOP is receiving so much criticism for supporting or not supporting policies, mandates, nominees to office, and the list goes on that they may or may not be right in. Obama won the election because he played off the disgruntled emotions of the American people. He won with the backing of a House and Senate majority who did nothing themselves to reach out an open hand to the Bush administration.

Randy Shaw’s article is proof enough that people are still upset and frustrated at the former administration, and the words show. I don’t think it is to far beyond rational thought to assume that the reason why the Left is upset now, is because of what has happened in the past. If you want to get things done, and push your plans through that have been promised to better not only the people of America but the country itself, put aside “childish things (directly from Obama’s Inauguration speech)” such as name calling and bullying, actually open your hand to the Republicans instead of extending a proud “we won, you didn’t, get out of our way” finger.

Eric Crawford
Ames, Iowa (currently in Iraq working for a NGO)

To the Editor:

Excellent article. Readers: Please send this to your local GOP lawmaker(s) asap. The GOP clings to a single vote in the Senate as their only claim to national power. One vote.

They are irrelevant in the House. They have a fragile minority in the Senate. They no longer hold the Executive Office. Why do they continue to fight like they are the majority?

Isn’t this the party that Puts Country First? It’s time they started practicing what they preach.

Jim Jones

To the Editor:

Obama isn’t crazy for citing Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” quote. We forget that Limbaugh was just a wacko freakshow until President Bush’s election forced us to take Limbaugh seriously, just like it opened up space for Ann Coulter to perform. Limbaugh doesn’t represent Republican strategic thinking. Obama is using him to embarrass Senate Republicans, like he used Bush on McCain (but not necessarily to beat them in the next election, just to raise that specter so they’ll behave).

The only President to seriously misunderestimate Limbaugh was Bush’s father, who carried Limbaugh’s bags to the Lincoln Bedroom when he had him over during his reelection campaign. Limbaugh toadied up to Bush until he lost, and then gleefully reported how mortified he was to see the President doing servant labor.

Dave Blake
Berkeley, CA

To the Editor:

I have been a loyal, registered Republican voter since 1961. During most of that period, I saw and believed that the GOP best represented the time-honored American way: smaller, more representative government, more supportive of our Constitutional freedoms and guarantees, and favoring those who depended on their own initiative and effort for their living, rather than on government entitlements and hand-outs.

Ronald Reagan became my God – embodying all that was best about America. Despite inflationary policies, he made us all proud of being Americans again, after the Carter debacle. He accomplished things that were only dreamed of in this country, and in world opinion. America became again truly the world’s leader – respected and admired world wide, and feared by those who opposed us.

Beginning with Bush Senior, it slowly became apparent that the GOP was the party of choice for big business, the military-industrial complex, those who sought power based on wealth, and against the working class. Many who had trusted the Republicans to govern well became nervous at the obvious out-of-touch position of the government, from the President on down. We wondered where these politicians had been for decades, that they seemed to have no idea of the concerns, problems, beliefs and struggles of those who worked for a living.

George H.W. Bush himself made this abundantly clear when, upon wandering into a grocery market he observed the item scanner at the register and remarked that he had no idea such things existed!

I want to make it clear that I do not agree with all of the liberal Democrats’ positions. I believe that some of them are ultimately destructive of our Constitutional guarantees. However, as I followed Obama’s campaign, I realized that the vast majority of his stated positions and plans were exactly the same as my own! I listened more carefully. Not only did he espouse positions that I believed had been needed for years, he announced support for goals that I never expected our government to seriously adopt! He appeared to openly oppose the status quo in favor of what the people needed and wanted! Heretical!

Last November, I proudly and hopefully voted for Barack Obama as President – the first time in my life that I did not feel I had voted for the lesser of two evils! He did not campaign on, nor does he speak on, partisanship, but stresses the need for all Americans to work together to make this country what it used to be once – and what it should be again. The last paragraph of the article I am commenting on is indicative of the current state of mind of and the typical Republican reaction to any suggestion of working toward the common good. I am changing my party affiliation – I have had more than enough of government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. I would much rather fight to change from inside what little I see as wrong with the Democratic Party than to defend what little may still be right about the Republican Party.

Arnold Stewart
A 68 year old retired (white) working man

To the Editor:

I agree GOP “clenched fists” captures desperate tantrums, not spirited fist pumps or serious opposition. Against a politically savvy new president, Republicans heavy with internal bickering are like dinosaurs following each other into tar pits. What does Obama have to lose? Either he gets opposition support or reminds everyone they weren’t open to compromise.

Clearly, W. isn’t the only insular Republican unable to learn from error. Today’s GOP leadership makes the mediocre Democrats look smart (no easy task with Sen. Reid at the helm), there is no positive GOP agenda, and liberals can only hope one of the current prospects for president (Palin, Romney, Huckabee, or Guiliani) succeed, thus advancing extinction.

Bush and McCain blindness to permanent economic and demographic changes continues, plus rightwingers don’t get race anymore. What struck me about Russ Limbaugh’s recent air pollution wasn’t just ranting against Obama succeeding (fearful then Democrats would be unstoppable), but that he invoked being screwed by “the first African-American” president.

If the centrist Obama has done anything miraculous since election, it is diluting skin color as political liability. The country is more color-blind than I would have imagined six months ago. Which may be why the president scolded Limbaugh in public (normally not a great idea, giving thugs attention). But rightwing race baiting will boomerang and shrink support.

Likewise guaranteed to fail: Republican attacks on Obama for being a “socialist” (read: communist), or attacking Democrats as foreign or un-American, “not one of us” nonsense, subversive to national interests.

Replacing failed ideologues like Bush and Cheney with brainy adults is only the first step towards national redemption. I think Limbaugh loses face and audience, for even white racists will squirm when hearing calls for America to fail. What if rightwing radio is another dinosaur, stuck in its own quicksand, with its own Clinton-fueled lifespan coming to an end?

Robert Becker

To the Editor:

Both the business and labor communities of San Francisco need to sit down to discuss structural changes to the way we fund city services before it’s likely a consensus can be found to move us forward together on solving the city’s deficit crisis. For this to happen, more time will be needed. June is just too soon. All parties need to look at the ways in which our city can streamline and become more cost effective. Simple things like looking at contracting out more city services to the private sector when they can be done as well but more efficiently (Laguna Honda laundry services comes to mind.) must be a part of any discussion of adding new taxes on the city’s businesses and residents.

We also need to examine how efficiently and effectively the non-profits that currently administer many city social service programs are doing. The taxpayers of San Francisco need to be assured that these social programs are really necessary and successful. We need to have more accountability and less lobbying by the non-profits who have grown substantially over the years providing such services. Should San
Franciscans be required to fund a higher level of social services than other cities and counties in California or, for that matter, the country? We need to measure ourselves against other cities and counties to see if we are placing too much of a financial burden on our local residents and businesses. Perhaps now is the time to look to the Federal Government once again for more leadership in this area.

Lastly, we need to look at ways to make the private sector more profitable as a means of increasing tax revenues, rather than simply adding more disincentives to having a business in the City. Perhaps taking the cap off of TIC conversions would be a good idea to clear out the backlog and bring more taxable real estate and transfer taxes into the city’s coffers. There are others, such as promoting greater development opportunities for Port property, and upzoning property along the BART and key MUNI lines to stimulate more growth and housing. Each of us has to keep in mind that unprofitable businesses don’t help fund our city, profitable ones do. We need to all work together to come up with a plan that is fair, realistic, broad-based, and sustainable for the long term. Trying to do this for a June election doesn’t allow enough time to incorporate these attributes into a final recovery plan.

Ken Cleaveland
Director, Government and Public Affairs
Building Owners and Managers Assn.of San Francisco

Dear Marc Norton:

The only reason why you are writing this damn article (“Tax, Tax, Tax the Rich”) is because you are poor. If you were rich, you would not write this article at all and that is disgraceful. I am not that wealthy but middle-class, and I voted for John McCain because he would have really changed a lot. You only voted for Obama because you thought that he was going to lower your taxes, and he is not.

John Hammersmith

To the Editor:

It seems like another lesson from Props N and Q (revenue measures) is that if you kick to the end zone, rather than the 50-yard line, then make a very public and hopefully not too devastating concession to the other side, it’s hard for the morons at the Comical to lambaste you through election day. Let’s face it, their press release aggregator nee newspaper still has a profound impact on local politics.

Josh Bingham

To the Editor:

Well, we wouldn’t have this alleged INFERIOR prison population if California would spend a lot more on its alleged “REHABILITATION” than to let inmates languish in a cell. For those whom are elegible for Parole, or finishing a term, why doesn’t the state get off their collective asses and do some good instead of paying high salaries to correctional officers. Spend some of the tax payers money to educate these inmates so when they are released they can readapt to society and get a job verses just failing and ending up a statistic that will reenter the prison cycle/system.

Gregg and James Hierholzer

To the Editor:

Obama has asked for $21.5 billion for jobs to be created in California. This means that everyone will go back to sleep soon. It has taken us ten long years of writing about prisoner neglect, doing many, many rallies, attending all the Plata hearings to reach this historic moment in time.

Everyone please show up and join the families of the UNION, many of whom died a preventable death or who is dying now, at the Federal Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, 9 am sharp, meet by the flagpole on Feb 3 (the date recently changed). We need 500 people to attend to support all the advocates and to let the three judge panel that people do care about prisoners. There are about 4500 terminally ill and medically incapacitated who could be released right now under AB 1539. The public outcry determines how the judges will lean.


To the Editor:

I also think the government needs to look at ways to help prisoners when they come out to survive. Jobs are very hard to get, and even fast food jobs are asking about convictions to your record. Give them a chance to succeed in the outside world without going back to crime. Help them get into drug and alcohol programs for free.

We try to make them take classes and move forward, but we give them nothing to help in this process. I know first hand, as my husband is a violator sitting in prison for a drinking problem. Help them get free help as all of us do not have the financial stability to do this, and they revert back to old ways and get violated.

Anna Sterling

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126 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-771-9850 (phone)

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